Content By Wichita State University

By: Wichita State University

(Wichita State University: Washington) --  Airlines and airline passengers are discovering that less can be better. Fewer flights and fewer fliers have translated into better performance.

For the second consecutive year, the performance of the nation’s leading carriers improved, according to the 20th annual national Airline Quality Rating (AQR). It was the third best overall score in the 19 years researchers have tracked the performance of airlines.

Released during a news conference at the National Press Club, the rankings show that of the 17 carriers rated in 2008 and 2009, all but Alaska Airlines had improved AQR scores for 2009.

The AQR is a joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities at Purdue University and Wichita State University.

The industry improved in three of the four major elements of the AQR: on-time performance, baggage handling, and customer complaints. Denied boarding is the only element where the performance declined.

The slight increase in denied boardings is hardly surprising, according to Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University.